Anger, shame and then pure happiness
Anger and shame: these two emotions have become part of me since my son announced he was trans quite a few years ago. The anger emerged when I discovered that the entire world had been captured by this gender nonsense. The doctors, the therapists, the schools, friends and family all believing that girls could be boys and boys could be girls. I tried to explain to some of the believers what I have learned in my many hours of research, but they had made up their minds. They would listen politely but I could read their expressions of doubt and then they would say something about me having to accept my son. I’ve had too many of these conversations over the last few years and the anger has multiplied with time. Nobody was listening!
I brought Abigail Shrier’s book to give to my primary care doctor at one of my appointments. I briefly explained to her that my young son had been taken in by gender ideology and was confused and now thought he was trans. I tried to explain further but once she heard the word “trans” that was it. She told me to take him to an endocrinologist. I told her that she wasn’t hearing me and I gave her the book to please read. Before she left the exam room, she again told me to take my son to an endocrinologist. That was the last time I saw her. This is just one brief experience of the many that I’ve had to refuel my rage.
I had a similar scenario with our pediatrician who I once admired. We stopped seeing him as well. I couldn’t risk bringing my son to a doctor who would affirm his new female identity and send us to the nearest gender center. I already was fully aware of what goes on in gender centers and I knew better.
Yes, soon after my kid made his trans announcement, I did call the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles (CHLA) and spoke to the social worker that worked for the famous Dr Johana Kennedy Olsen. I was very confused in the beginning and did believe there was a possibility that my son was trans. That confusion didn’t last long though. After a 5 minute conversation on the phone, the social worker asserted that I should move quickly and get my son on puberty blockers. She told me with urgency that once my son’s Adam’s apple comes out and his voice drops, there is no going back. I lived for the next couple weeks in a state of utter panic, weighing these two options. If my son was really trans, I would want to make it as easy as possible for him, which could mean starting blockers immediately or, if he wasn’t trans, I would be medicating him for no reason and actually hurting him. I called the gender center back and told them of my dilemma and she recommended I take my son to a gender therapist to figure this out. She gave me the name of the therapist who was actually the husband of the largest gender doctor in LA, who also just happened to be trans. My confusion began coming to an end and my skepticism exploded.
The next few years were tough ones. Trying to support my son without giving into his demands was not an easy task. He was angry that we didn’t buy into his new female identity and give him hormones to alter his appearance. We had to go to the schools and insist the teachers and counselors stay out of my kid’s personal gender story when I realized they were very much to blame for the mess we were in. His middle school counselor had seen him multiple times without us knowing. She affirmed him and even showed him “Jazz” videos, which glamorized being trans. If I knew what I know now, I would have sued the school but at the time I was too concerned about my kid to take action.
After many years of struggling with gender dysphoria, our son socially transitioned. We didn’t approve but, through this whole journey, we kept telling him that he could dress however he liked but he was not to take hormones. It is one thing to tell your child it doesn’t matter what he wears but did I mean it? Seeing my teenage son dressed in girl clothes was not easy. It’s much different when a teenage girl dresses up as a boy—it’s way more acceptable to society. First of all, my first concern was for him and always has been but I can’t deny the embarrassment and shame I felt. He obviously was severely confused and he was wearing it on his sleeve, literally. He didn’t look like a girl at all. Even with his long hair, it was obvious he was a teenage boy. The first time I saw him in a dress was by accident. I was walking the dog in the neighborhood park and accidentally saw him and some friends. He didn’t see me but I sure saw him. It was heartbreaking. Not only did he look terrible but I could feel his pain in his body language. I wasn’t concerned so much about the clothing, but rather what it meant. I was concerned about his mental state.
It was never easy seeing him dressed this way but I sort of went numb in order to deal with the feelings. When my son walked from the house to the car, I would pray my neighbors weren’t watching. He would occasionally walk down to our local shops and cafes and I would pray that our friends wouldn’t see him. I hated feeling embarrassed of my own child who I loved more than life itself. It was a terrible feeling. He was suffering and so I tried desperately to ignore the clothing and not worry about what others thought of him. I would run into other moms at the grocery store and they would not ask about my son because they didn’t know how to approach it. A couple times, I felt people avoid me because it was too uncomfortable for them. I tried to keep the focus on my son’s wellbeing, because I know that is what mattered.
He graduated high school and went off to college. He presented as female and lived with the girls in the dorm. We were not happy about him going as female but I felt we had no choice. Again, we kept the focus on not medicalizing, and no hormones. We had many conversations about waiting until his brain was fully developed and until he had more life experience before making a decision like that. We showed him articles that explained the risks and dangers of taking cross sex hormones. Moving him in the first day of school was hard. Most of the girls were wearing shorts and a t-shirts and my son walked in in a miniskirt. It was very clear he was not really a girl but everyone politely pretended he was. We moved him in and tried to ignore the stares and prayed for the best.
He finished the year with good grades and a few friends. He moved back home for the summer and then, out of the blue, he announced that he was going back to identifying as a guy! We were in disbelief and still are! He never told us he was even considering this.
This kid always surprises us!
Since the big announcement, he’s been the happiest and most content I’ve seen since he was a child. He cut his hair off and bought new clothes and began a life as himself—and that’s all I ever wanted. It was a very long and tortuous journey but here we are. I feel like we have our life back, that we can come out of hiding. I only hope that the other kids who fall into this confusion can make it to the other side as well.